How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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Also writes fiction…

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I’m always quite surprised when I meet someone who wasn’t aware that I also write fiction.

For instance, if you follow me on facebook then you’ll know that earlier this year I finished working on my third novel, which even as we speak is sitting with the powers that be having it’s fate deliberated. And in the last month or two I started writing my fourth novel, which is turning out to be a lot more complicated than I thought it would, and is beginning to make me wonder whether I’ve lost the ability to string two words together.

My first novel was The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl – a quirky, lad-lit, easy-reading rom-com. My second novel, The Truth About This Charming Man, is also technically a rom-com, but with a hefty dose of crime-heist / mystery thrown in for good measure. Of all the books I’ve written so far, it was in many way the most challenging.

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

I came up with the idea for The Truth About This Charming Man many years ago when I was part of a small theatre company that ran Murder Mystery events for discerning clients. One evening a fellow actor walked into the dressing room and told us that he was off to Australia for a week. ‘Very nice’ we said, but he didn’t share our enthusiasm. Jeremy was flying half way around the world to claim a body.

It turns out that in Australia, a body can’t be released until it’s claimed by a blood relative. It didn’t seem to matter that Jeremy had never actually met his Great Uncle, the Aussie Authorities just needed him to fly out and place his signature on a piece of paper. A task which was not only costly, but extremely inconvenient for our Jez.

Which was when I had an idea: Did it really need to be Jez that flew out to Aus? Couldn’t one of us take on the role of Jez, and fly out on his behalf? Would anyone notice? Would anyone… care?

More than that, perhaps Jez was the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps there was a whole slew of potential clients in need of the services of professional actors. After all, haven’t you ever needed to be in more than one place at the same time? Haven’t you ever wanted to send someone to a boring social event or meeting in your stead? Haven’t you ever been tempted to hire someone to play your boyfriend for the evening in order to keep your colleagues, family, and everyone else, from asking why you’re always single?

Those are the sort of thoughts that make me want to sit down, and write a novel…

So, if you’re a fan of Nick Hornby, or Mike Gayle, Rom Coms or Heist movies, or theatre, or just a bloody good read, then The Truth About This Charming Man could be right up your street.

Click here to leap over to amazon – or type buythebook.today into a web browser. You can download the book to your phone, tablet, or whatever device you’re using to read this blog for £1.99, or purchase the paperback for £7.99.

Still need more convincing? How about a sneaky look at the first chapter?

Read the rest of the opening chapter, for free, here.

Charming, fabulous, witty and easy to read book,
cannot wait for the sequal!

says amazon reader Lynn Wedge

Reading this in an email? If there’s a gap above that’s where a video would normally appear. Jump over to youtube to watch it.


TTATCM sidebarHot news! 

The Truth About This Charming Man is 99 pennies for the month of May 2017. Download the book for your smart phone, tablet, or kindle, today.

Visit BUYTHEBOOK.TODAY to buy the book… today!

(The FREE kindle reading app is available for everything. Seriously; EVERYTHING.)


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The Wisdom Of Fay

fay's goalsReader Fay dropped me a line via facebook to let me know how she’d got on with her 2013 goals, but what really impressed me was how she’d written them.

Fay had three goals, all written in the present tense, each with a deadline, a penalty attached (ugh!), and saved on her phone where she could see them daily. Now that’s the way to write goals!

So how did she do?

I’m happy to report that during 2013 NO penalties were required – Fay has been dating someone since Oct, she’s running a marathon in May (it’s not Paris, it’s Edinburgh but I think that counts!) and she’s expanded her culinary skills with many a Mary Berry recipe.

The ‘Harrison fix up’ penalty intrigued me. Apparently it refers to her married friend who had a habit of inviting Fay to dinner, where upon she’d discover that the whole thing was a ruse to try and fix her up with another singleton.

If ‘romance’ features as one of your goals, I might be able to help! This month saw the launch of my new book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting.

It’s available now in paperback, as an ebook, and (once I’ve finished recording it), as an audio download from audible. Pop along to amazon and select the format of your choice.

Alternatively, why not try the shorter, quirkier, companion guide, first; From Invisible To Irresistible – check it out on amazon


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Opening Chapter: How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting

This month saw the launch of my new book How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting. It’s available now in paperback, as an ebook, and (once I’ve finished recording it), as an audio download from audible. Pop along to amazon and select the format of your choice. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from the opening chapter…

To Begin With

On my thirty-second birthday, as I sat at my mother’s dining room table in front of a large cake, thirty two candles threatening to ignite my beard should I lean too far forward, I realised that the only ambition I had left in life – the only dream I hadn’t given up on – was to be married.

Or at least in some sort of steady, loving relationship.

A long term partnership with someone whose ying was a close match to my less than melodic yang.

But even this, this last naive expectation of life, was looking increasingly unlikely. Every candle on that cake was some sort of burning epitaph to just how utterly rubbish I was when it came to affairs of the heart.

There had been relationships in the past – of course there had – but I’d kind of ‘fallen into them’, by accident. And after the ladies in question had tried, and failed, to mould me into the kind of man they actually wanted, those relationships had withered and died. There hadn’t been an ‘accidental relationship’ for a while. Colleagues no longer described me as an eligible bachelor. Some had started to question my sexuality.

So as my family launched into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ I decided there and then that the prospect of being single for the rest of my days was unacceptable.

Something had to be done.

Around that time there was a BBC TV show called ‘Would Like to Meet’ where a team of experts (a flirt coach, an actor, and an image consultant) would take some hapless individual and turn them into a heartthrob or a man-magnet. It very quickly became my favourite TV show. I’d watch it avidly from one week to the next hoping to pick up some tips. And the conclusion I came to was that I too could do with a similar makeover – albeit without the entire viewing nation of the United Kingdom looking on.

So over the next few weeks I tracked down Image Consultants, and contacted one. Back then, Image Consultants mainly worked for corporations, re-styling senior corporate executives who might otherwise look less than sharp in the boardroom, but I had surprisingly little problem persuading my consultant of choice to broaden the scope of her client base to include one sad and lonely thirty-something guy. She took one look at me, threw away every item of clothing I’d acquired in the previous decade, and in an afternoon gave me some much needed va-va-voom, in the wardrobe department.

And once I’d been completely re-styled, I looked around for a flirt coach.

These days, you can barely move for self-styled relationship experts and flirt coaches – heck, I’m just about to tell you why I’m one of them – but back in 2003 I could find just one. And she ran courses.

I took several hundred pounds from my savings, and booked myself on a ‘flirting weekend’. Nervously, I took my place in the front row, and when instructed I turned and introduced myself to the stunning blonde sitting next to me.

“I’m Peter,” I said.

“I’m Kate,” said the blonde.

Then she smiled.

And I was smitten.

The course wasn’t that much of a success, in that it didn’t teach me how to flirt. Not that it mattered. My strategy had worked, somewhat differently but infinitely better than I’d hoped. On the Monday evening Kate and I had our first date. By the Tuesday I’d officially found myself a girlfriend. A few months later I found myself on one knee. And a year to the day after we’d first met, I found myself married.

It didn’t last.

Two and a bit years later I lost Kate. To a brain haemorrhage. At Stanstead airport.

And when the dust settled – when I adjusted to a world without my wife – I was single again. The loneliness returned. And though I’ll never be able to replace my beautiful blonde, I needed to fill the space that she’d left.

Something had to be done

It’s my considered belief that ‘dating’ – whether that be online dating, speed-dating, “hey – what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” dating – is similar to job hunting; it’s just as brutal, many times more frustrating, and potentially far more heartbreaking.

And just like job hunting nobody wants to become ‘good’ at dating. To get good you have to do lots of it, and the very fact that you have to apply for a lot of jobs – or go on a lot of dates – raises more questions than it answers. It’s not really something you want to shout about. Never the less, I was determined. There was no way I wanted to return to the way things were, before Kate, life’s just too damn short. So date I did.

Many, many, many times.

And finally, after years and years of being completely useless at finding romance, I cracked it.

There’s love in my life again.

Just as there can be in yours.

Welcome to How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting.

If you’ve been sitting around, on your own, telling yourself you should really make an effort and ‘get out there’, this book might be for you.

If you’re already dating – or you’ve tried it – and you’ve encountered nothing but liars and Lotharios, started your own personal collection of dating disaster stories, all whilst beating off people you wouldn’t normally look twice at, this book is probably for you.

And if you’d rather fast forward through the dating stage as quickly as possible, and find someone you’d like to have a relationship with – whatever type of relationship that might be – this book is most definitely for you.

But before you get too excited, let’s establish some ground rules. Buckle up and prepare to learn the hardest lesson this book has to give.


‘How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting’ is available NOW in paperback, as an ebook, and shortly in audio from audible.co.uk & .com
Visit amazon to purchase the book.

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Start Dating, Stop Waiting. 5 Dating Tips

heart-love-romanceBefore I started on my quest for happiness, I was using my problem solving skills to figure out what actually works when it comes to courting the opposite sex. From the pen-pal clubs of the early eighties, to the lonely heart newspaper ads of the nineties, from postal dating services to the more formal introduction agencies – there hasn’t been a dating service that I haven’t tried!

And after many, many years of seemingly making every dating mistake there is – scouring every scrap of scientific research I could get my hands on – I finally cracked it. There’s love in my life. And it wasn’t an accident.

If love, lust or romance feature in your goals for this year let me see if I can impart some of my dating prowess to you now. Here are my top five tips for dating success.

Dating Tip Number 1: What do you want?

Figuring out who it is you’re looking for is probably the most effective thing you can do to kick start your love life. You might think (as I used to) that you can’t afford to be picky, that finding someone who doesn’t repel you too much and is content to remain in your company might be the best you can hope for. I’m here to tell you that the reverse is true.

After months, possibly even years, of less-than-satisfactory relationships with long periods of nothing in-between, I sat down and wrote out what I actually wanted. A list of qualities that I hoped for in my ideal person. And about six weeks later I met my wife, Kate.

Now – that’s not the whole story, obviously. There were a few stages between writing my ‘perfect woman shopping list’ and choosing to sit next to this beautiful blonde I spied from across the room, but a few months into our relationship I looked back at that list and I was amazed at just how many of the criteria Kate met. Coincidence? Perhaps. But for the time it would take you to create your own list isn’t it worth the effort?

Dating Tip Number 2: Go online!

By my calculations online dating websites are responsible for one in five marriages. Include relationships that haven’t got as far as the altar, throw in the likes of facebook and other social media websites, and I estimate 50 percent of all romances probably start on the internet. Which means that simply using your computer to meet people could double your chances of dating success.

Dating Tip Number 3: Pick a good dating website

There are a LOT of dating websites out there – finding a good one can be a challenge. My current feelings are the free-ones can be just as good, sometimes better, than the paid-ones. For extra oomph pick a site that does some form of compatibility matching!

Dating Tip Number 4: To meet ‘the one’, you must first meet ‘the many’

Very, very few people go on one date and hit the jackpot first time. In fact, in the years I’ve been chatting to people about this stuff I’ve never met anyone who has. Dating is a numbers game. If you find someone you like online send them a message. If they respond toss a couple more messages back and forth. If you still like them arrange to meet. Meanwhile; continue to browse the dating sites, continue to send messages, continue arranging dates. Exclusivity should be reserved for that special someone you’ve dated more than once, in real life, and even then only if you want to.

As well as a numbers game, dating is a skill. The more dates you go on the better you’ll get.

SDSW drop shadow colour smallDating Tip Number 5: Have fun!

Dating is tough. It has to be said. Some days it can feel like a slog. But if it always feels like a slog, if it’s tough without being the slightest bit pleasurable, well, then you’re doing something wrong!

Try changing your mindset. Dating can be a fun. An adventure. Exciting. It’s a little like a lottery; Sometimes it’s just OK. Sometimes it’s better than OK. Occasionally it’s a total disaster, but every now and then it’s magical. And those moments make up for everything.

Secondly, make sure you’re doing things you actually enjoy. For me, a good first date takes place in a coffee shop, if it’s going really well I might suggest wandering across to the pub over the road. Dinners and first dates don’t mix well. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re into bungy jumping, or white water rafting or long walks in the countryside. Picking an activity you enjoy will significantly increase the chances of your first date going well.

Want More Tips?

If you want to delve into the detail behind the five tips above, pick my brain for more nuggets of dating gems, or need a little more hand holding, then I have some very good news. How To Start Dating And Stop Waiting, my third self-help book, is available today in paperback and as an ebook. An audio version – which includes the companion guide From Invisible To Irresistibleis also available at audible (co.uk and com)

You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle book. Download the FREE kindle app for your computer, smart phone or tablet from amazon (.co.uk | .com)


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Brain Farts (& the return of Bob)

brainfartLast week – ish – I introduced you to Bob and his wish list which was, I don’t think he’ll mind me telling you, made up of quite a lot of stuff you wouldn’t ‘wish’ on your worst enemy.

Actually that’s not quite true. You probably would wish quite a lot of this stuff on your worst enemy. In fact viewed in this context, Bob’s list makes a lot more sense. I can see my enemy’s now, miserably cleaning their cookers, painting their wardrobes, and spending long hours on the phone to various banking institutions, all whilst I sit in the sun…

Anyway. After giving Bob the benefit of my advice I received the following chirpy response:

Not long after I’d sent you the email I was reading your book again and got to the page about Wish List items leading to Happiness and thought – oh my that’s it.  Lots of things on that list aren’t wish list stuff at all.  But I’d already sent the email.  I think what I presented to you isn’t my Wish List, its my list of Brain Farts.  Another book calls them pop-corn thoughts because they POP into your head.  I prefer Brain Farts.  I am a master list writer and I write all these brain farts down.  This leads to a big list that I don’t know what to do with.  Which is what I sent to you.  Its actioning the items on those lists that’s a problem.  I think what would make me happier (I’m not unhappy) is to become someone that can get those nagging jobs just done to make more space for Live Life Now Lists and Wish List stuff.

Ah Bob. I feel your pain. I’ve been there. Making endless lists of chores which if I can just get some of them completed, will free up so much time, and relieve me of all those niggles I feel through out the day.

So let me spare you some torment and make life considerably easier for you. It ain’t ever gonna happen. You’re never, ever, going to clear your brain fart list. Ever.

Have you ever noticed how it doesn’t matter how big that suitcase is, when it comes to holiday packing it’s never quite big enough?  Or how your wife manages to fill her handbag with all kinds of rubbish regardless of whether it’s the size of a small purse or large enough to comfortably hold a small child and a three volume novel. So it is with brain farts, and chores, and all those annoying things that seem to stand between you and a smile. They fill up whatever space you allow them to have. And therein is your solution. Take back control and give those farts no space whatsoever!

Now I’m not saying ignore them. That won’t work for you. Not unless you’re one of those people who are blessed with the amazing ability to live life totally in the moment, never worrying about what might happen next week, or tomorrow, or in the next five minutes, and instantly forgetting anything that happened longer than a moment ago. But chances are if you were one of those people you wouldn’t be reading this now. No – you need a way to manage those brain farts. I accept that.

Here then, is what I do.

1. When I get a brain fart I text/email myself, or write it on a scrap of paper. Anything, just to capture it and get it out of my head.

2. I have a text file on my computer desktop. You could use a pad or something equally low tech, but you need a dumping ground. As a new brain farts arrives (or you come across the ones you captured at stage one) transfer them here.

3. Once a month review this document, and group the farts together into subject matter – WRITING, FUN, NOW LIST, CHORES, FINANCES, BUSINESS TASKS, COMMITMENTS.. things like that.

4. Transfer all these items to a master to-do list, and then review it – deciding which THREE of all the brain farts under that section (including the ones from previous months) should get your attention, which can be dumped, and which should just stay in pending. Picking just three farts focuses me on what’s actually important. Often I check to see how the three things I’ve chosen relate to my Goals.

5. Having decided which three items (they’re not farts any more) I’m going to work on I then decide what the next action is for each of them (do I need to call someone? Do some research? Read a book? Buy a widget? Talk to my assistant?) and when I’m going to do that (take a look at the Advanced Diary Tips at the end of the book for more on that).

And that’s it. It’s actually a lot less onerous than it might seem, and in doing this I  prevent brain farts from taking over my life. True my oven could still do with a clean. True my wardrobe could also do with a lick of paint. True, at some point I still need to call the bank and have my sanity gradually erased by someone who has no intention of actually helping me, but… not today. Today I’m busy being happy.


Hot news! Today ‘How To Do Everything And Be Happy’ is available, in paperback, from selected US bookstores and from US cover with drop shadowamazon.COM – hurrah! 

To mark this auspicious occasion, my US publishers (Harper 360) have decided to give the US-printed paperback a brand new, all-yellow cover.

Of course the inside of the book remains exactly the same – this isn’t a new edition – so there’s no need to rush out and buy a new copy of the book if you already have one. Although I would certainly understand if that were the case. And can one ever have too many copies? Plus – one imagines – there might be those amongst you who might see a market for importing the US branded copy of the book, and selling it here in the UK as a collectors edition. I’m just saying.


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‘Go With The Flow’ Day

pocketful of smiles_smlOne of the things I love about ‘Boxing Day’ is how people have taken the idea, and made it their own. This week, to mark the launch of her latest book – ‘A Pocketful of Smiles’ – author Wendy Steele tells us about ‘Go With The Flow’ Day.

With the evenings drawing in and less sunshine to brighten our days, I can feel lethargic and unmotivated. For me that suggests I need to book a ‘Go With The Flow’ day.

Do you sometimes get tired of the same routine? Do you find that your weekends feel just like working days? Do you sometimes wish you could do just what you feel like doing right now? You need a Go With The Flow Day.

This day is easy to achieve for some, requires forward planning by most but is impossible for very few of us. In order to make this time, you need to book a day in your diary to do it. For those with small children, this may need to be when grandparents are available to babysit, or with partners, decide if you’re going to ‘go with the flow’ together or separately.

A possible Go With The Flow Day for me would be when my children have plans where they are staying over, I’ve seen my mum the previous weekend, there is tasty home made food in the freezer and I’ve worked hard to get washing, shopping, chores etc relatively up to date. Upon waking, I might decide to have my first cup of Rooibos in the garden or the summer house. A leisurely bath with essential oils gives me time to think; a walk in the woods feels like a good idea. Wrapped up warm while walking, I remember the book I bought about spirals on ancient monuments and I indulge that feeling on my return home and curl up in front of the fire with my book. A cat or two comes to join me and I relish their warmth and their company. Before the light fades, I retrieve dahl and rice from the freezer and as I decant it into oven proof dishes, I remember the cooking apples in the cupboard, wash them, de-core them, fill them with brown sugar and sultanas and pop them in the oven with the curry. I return to my book but my mind recalls that I haven’t read one of my favourite books, ‘Moon Magic’ by Dion Fortune for a while and I abandon one book for another.

Everyone’s Go With The Flow Day will be different but try not to get distracted and fall into everyday mode. If you want to work, then please do so. Sometimes I write on these days but don’t feel you have to or you should. If you want to paint the spare room, go ahead, but only if you want to. Treat yourself to a day of doing what you feel.

Book a Go With The Flow Day in your diary now. After one of these days, I return to my routine refreshed. Even the chores seem less tiresome and I feel more in tune with my surroundings.

You can find 100 more ideas to bring happiness to your days in my new book ‘Wendy Woo’s Year – A Pocketful of Smiles – 101 ideas for a happy year and a happy you.’ Just visit amazon all the books


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Bills And Book Deals; WTFHIBD Episode 2

So, last month (ish) I confessed that my Now List has taken a temporary back seat whilst I pursue my primary goal, which is:

“I am supporting myself
doing the things I love & enjoy,
and no longer worry about bills.”HowToTakeControl-drop-shadow
December 2012

You might remember that this goal reflects my long-term ambition to change my career, and earn a steady wage from something I can feel proud about. Well I’m delighted to tell you that in the last month I’ve taken quite a significant step forward to achieving it (and when I say “quite”…)

On August 31st I officially signed a deal with publishers Harper Collins to relaunch the book that got me here in the first place. Essentially How To Do Everything and Be Happy has broken into the mainstream.

What does this actually mean?

Well firstly the book has a brand new funky cover. (Hello Sue Capes – you may now run around the house screaming. By the way, there are loads more reader quotes inside the book so if you were kind enough to give me permission to use your quote, you’ve probably got a mention.)

Secondly, the e-book should be available EVERYWHERE, for every e-reader on the planet, from all good e-book retailers. I don’t want to hear any more of that “I don’t have a kindle” nonsense… if you have a kobo, a sony e-reader, a nook, any kind of smart phone or tablet, you can get the book. Check out the Buy The Book page.

Thirdly, it’s still only £1.99 (or your local equivalent).

And last, but by no means least, a brand new paperback version – with all the lovely second-edition extras & goodies – will be on shelves, in bricks and mortar book stores, on the 17th of January 2013 though you can pre-order it now from your favourite online retailers (amazonother options). Be prepared for half a zillion pictures of me in bookstores up and down the country on the facebook page in the New Year.

To celebrate the re-launch of the paperback I’m planning on having a book-launch thingamy. I’m not a huge fan of book launches, or indeed any social gatherings (you seem surprised?), but even I’ve got admit that this can’t go by without something to mark the occasion. And so long as I’m left in charge of organising it please consider yourself (and a friend) invited, because I could never have got this far without you!

So does this mean I’ve achieved my goal?? Am I no longer worrying about bills? Pfff! Not quite. But I’m a good deal closer, and I’m still working on it – but to find out what else I have up my sleeve you’ll have to check back for next months WTFHIBD.


The official announcement in The Bookseller